Sara and Kevin Gray moved to Smith Mountain Lake in 2017, when Sara, a high school counselor, transferred into the local school district. After living here for a few years, they felt a real need for a community gathering space in the area…specifically, a coffee shop.
When they noticed the property at Bridgewater Plaza hit the market, they decided it was the perfect spot to hold their answer to that need: Smith Mountain Lake Coffee House. Though it may seem to have been a hard left turn from a career in counseling, Sara had always nurtured the dream of one day retiring from the school system to run a bakery - given her love for hospitality and being in the kitchen. Turns out, that dream came true a bit earlier than she expected!
Their inaugural year was 2019, and the opening of SMLCH was a great success. Thanks to COVID, the next few years were filled with trepidation, pivoting, and constantly adjusting to inflation and staffing shortages. But they were up for the challenge and despite a fluctuating economy, the Coffee House continued to thrive - even to the point of opening up two additional locations: one inside Eastlake Church, and one at the Food Lion shopping center.
Each address serves up the same delicious coffee but offers slightly different guest experiences. Bridgewater is home to their in-house bakery, a full menu, seating for larger groups, online ordering, lake-front views, and has free wifi available for work or study.
The Eastlake Community Church location is open to the public during the week and also for a couple hours before and after services. It has the most limited offerings menu featuring a few tasty treats from the bakery along with their java.
The Food Lion shop is located inside Evie's at the Lake SML Market. This space has been recently reimagined as a shopping destination featuring a line-up of fabulous local merchants - including Sara, herself! You'll find everything from fashion and jewelry, to art, pottery, and home decor. Locally made soaps and candles always make a perfect gift (or souvenir!). Oh! And don't forget the four-legged members of the family…there is a great selection of pet accessories found at Evie's. Browse around after you've finished your meal or snack (they serve breakfast and lunch sandwiches at this shop, too) and enjoy your delicious lemonade fruit sparkler (Kevin's favorite) or nitro cold brew with vanilla (Sara's favorite) while you shop.
As for what the future might hold? The sky's the limit! The Grays are open to whatever opportunities might arise that fit within their original ethos of providing services that help the community.
August 4th from 5-7:30pm Evie's at the Lake SML Market is hosting a special “Meet Our Vendors Open House." There will be fun giveaways and surprises for attendees! Come out and meet (or reacquaint yourselves with) the wonderful brands that are now all housed under one roof. Find out more at the button below:
The Smith Mountain Lake Coffee House family of shops are the place to go to grab a quick bite, meet up with your friends, enjoy a fresh lunch, or get a little office time in. Each location has their own hours, menus, and atmosphere depending on what you're looking for. Keep up with all SMLCH-related news on their Facebook page: